- Amid Covid in many US national parks, the number of visitors is skyrocketing.
- However, several major parks – sometimes located in isolated areas – attract few tourists despite the wealth of natural beauty.
- Travel site ParkSleepFly compared visitor park views in TripAdvisor with attendance statistics to generate a list of the most “underrated” and “overrated” national parks.
Ever since COVID-19 first made social distancing a thing, Americans seeking to escape lockdown boredom and work-from-home isolation have sought open space in the nation’s 63 national parks – and hundreds of national monuments , Preserve and other federally protected places – in the historical crowd.
Popular destinations such as Muir Woods National Monument near San Francisco and Acadia National Park in coastal Maine have become so crowded that the National Park Service has had to introduce advance reservations for some areas and attractions.
For example, Acadia attracted 71.38% more visitors year-on-year than in August last year, hosting some 802,926 parkgoers in that month alone. In response, the Park Service established a reservation system for motorists wishing to drive up Cadillac Mountain, arguably the park’s top attraction.
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The annual increase in visitors is not only due to gloomy travel last year. For example, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming had approximately 752,114 recreational visitors in June, according to the Park Service. While this was a 61% jump from June 2020, it was also a 20% increase from June 2019 – and represents an all-time high for that month.
Large crowds and restricted access have eaten into the wide-open appeal that draws visitors to the park for the first time. Still, while you may have more company than you would like to visit Yosemite or the Grand Canyon, there are a number of spectacular national parks that are few and far between.
Which parks to pack for? travel website ParkSleepFly Compiled Lists It has been called the most “underrated” and “overrated” US national park, by which time it means that the park, respectively, earns high visitor reviews, but attracts fewer people or – conversely – attracts large numbers. but get a lower grade.
The site did this by analyzing and comparing TripAdvisor visitor review data with official 2020 attendance figures for parks with fewer and more than 1 million visitors per year.
Parksleepfly CEO Martin Jones said it’s no surprise that visitors flock to America’s many breathtaking national parks
“However, there is something particularly beautiful about ‘underappreciated’ national parks,” he said. “The serenity of the untouched places provides a unique experience, and the opportunity to truly appreciate the stunning scenery, away from the hustle and bustle.”
1 underrated – or under-viewed, given the high satisfaction rate – national park on the ParkSleepfly list is Glacier Bay. The park in southeastern Alaska had just 5,748 visitors last year, despite 92.9% of TripAdvisor reviews being “excellent.” Its relative remote locations can blame the lower 48 states.
Some other so-called underrated parks are also in isolated locations or a plane ride away from the mainland US. These include Kenai Fjords in second place, also in Alaska, and, tied at number 7, Dry Tortugas – a remote island chain. west of Key West, Florida – and Haleakala, on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
When it comes to overrated national parks, which basically merit “meh” from TripAdvisor reviewers, the top spot went to the Indiana Dunes in Indiana. Although it attracted about 2.3 million visitors in 2020, only 51% of TripAdvisor reviews of the park were excellent.
Cuyahoga Valley, in eastern Ohio, was rounding out the bottom five; Hot Springs in Arkansas; in Yosemite, Central California; And Zion in Utah—all incredibly popular in terms of visitor numbers.